WHISTLER, British Columbia | Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane have given the Americans a 1-2 finish in the Nordic combined large hill competition that was marred by bad weather.
Demong, of Vermontville, N.Y. ended America’s golden goose egg in Nordic sports at the Winter Games by winning the 10-kilometer cross-country leg in 25 minutes, 32.9 seconds Thursday.
Spillane won his third silver of these games, finishing four seconds behind.
Bernhard Gruber of Austria, who had a 34-second head start after jumping the farthest off the large hill after a restart, took the bronze 10.8 seconds back.
Demong, of Vermontville, N.Y., started in sixth place and 46 seconds back, but quickly caught his teammate and Gruber for a three-man race the rest of the way.
They didn’t have to worry about some of the best World Cup athletes catching them after worsening weather hampered the top jumpers on the large hill, relegating them too far back in the field to be a factor.
The cross-country race was run in much better weather, but the soft, sometimes choppy snow put a premium on the proper wax and ski setup. Unlike the team relay when Demong was done in by bad skis, he had the perfect combination to put the Americans atop the podium.
But the damage had been done to the sport’s better athletes.
“It’s a joke,” Norway’s Magnus Moan fumed of the final Nordic combined race at the Winter Games after managing to jump just 112.5 meters in a driving, wet snow and tail wind that pushed him down early.
That had him starting 2 minutes, 21 seconds behind Gruber, who jumped in much better conditions after a restart earlier in the morning.
Gruber, ranked 22nd in the World Cup standings, capitalized on a rogue headwind that helped him stay aloft for a top jump of 134 meters.
“It’s like a lottery. Some guys got good conditions, some others terrible conditions,” shrugged World Cup leader Jason Lamy Chappuis, of France, who won the gold in the normal hill 10K but started this race in 29th and finished in 18th.
Todd Lodwick, America’s only five-time Olympic skier, did his part to help his teammates.
“Once I saw those two guys pull away, I jumped in front (of the chase group) and tried to slow down the pace,” Lodwick said.View Entire Story
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